I don’t know where the time goes. I guess the midnight baking sessions get away from me and I forget to blog about them – and then of course, I have trouble remembering the details. And I know I still need to upload pictures from all of the baking extravaganzas. This baking/blogging thing really could be a full-time job!
OK – time for a quick recap.
Mast Brothers – the chocolatier in Williamsburg. We went to the tasting room only to discover the pastry chef was on vacation in Europe, so no cookies or truffles for us. Sad. But, the guy hand-wrapping the bars was very nice and let us sample the Papua New Guinea smoked bar (fascinating, though not something I’d back with), the Stumptown Coffee bar (the first coffee chocolate bar I’ve ever liked), and the Serrano Pepper bar, which was my personal favorite. At the wrapper’s suggestion, we bought the Brooklyn Blend to take home for tasting as a possible baking option. It was rich and fruity, a distinctive flavor. I probably wouldn’t use it for baking – I think it’s flavor would get lost when mixed with sugar, flour, vanilla, and other ingredients.
Askinosie 77% Davao, Phillipines – this bar was sharp and acidic, with a strong liquor flavor. It tastes much darker than it’s 77%. It would probably be a good choice for baking brownies, but at $10/3 ounces, it needs to be reserved for really special occasions.
Michel Cluizel 1st Cru de Plantation Concepcion 66% – this is a rich, creamy bar with a strong taste of vanilla. Again, this is a nice bar, but again, pretty expensive. The truth is, though I definitely have preferences when comparing them side by side, I like them all. The other truth is, I still really like Ghirardelli chocolate chips, which are significantly less expensive and sold in every grocery store around, making them far more accessible.
Trader Joes – the bloggers have been raving, so I figured I should try. At $2.00 or less per bar, who could resist? I tried the 85% Dark Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Bar, which was described as “smooth and fruity from the Tumaco Region of Colombia” It was dark and had a slightly waxy flavor – think the frosting on a Carvel ice cream cake after you’ve blown out the candles. It also had a distinctly vanilla flavor – one that I would recognize anywhere if this were the bar used in a baked product. It tastes cheap and would not be my go-to chocolate bar. I also tried the Fair Trade Organic 72% Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar. Sadly, this was not a winner either. This had an overpowering tobacco and berry taste. It would probably make a great mole sauce, but is definitely not my choice for baking or eating. As another point of comparison, I tried a third Trader Joes bar – the organic 73% super dark, dark chocolate bar. I didn’t like this one either. The chocolate was lost in all of the fruit flavors. 3 strikes for TJ.
Lindt 85% Extra Dark – this reminded me most of the Valrhona bar in that it was the plainest. My tasting companion found both of these bars a little boring for this reason, but I like that nothing gets in the way of the pure simplicity of the chocolate. This one is a little dry, leaving a similar sense to cocoa powder in my mouth afterward. It’s also relatively inexpensive at around $4.00/3.5 ounces.
So after all of that, there are 10 chocolate bars, each with bites taken out of them, sitting in my fridge. Not enough of any one to bake something, and way too many to eat. Somewhere down the line I might try to combine several complimentary bars to create some baked treat, but for now, my fridge door will reveal my gluttonous hobby and I will continue to use my Ghirardelli chips in cookies for the sake of consistent comparison.